Mike Westbrook
Kate Westbrook

London Bridge Is Broken Down
A Composition for Voice, Jazz Orchestra & Chamber Orchestra

Picardie Lyrics

Blighters
The House is crammed: tier beyond tier they grin
And cackle at the show, while prancing ranks
Of harlots shrill the chorus, drunk with din;
'We're sure the Kaiser loves our dear old Tanks!'

I'd like to see a Tank come down the stalls,
Lurching to rag-time tunes, or 'Home, sweet Home',
And there'd be no more jokes in Music-halls
To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume.

text: Siegfried Sassoon
(born Kent 1886, died Wiltshire 1967)


Les Morts (The Dead)
In the wind that blows
The veils of widows
All float on one side

And the mingled tears
Of a thousand sorrows
In one stream glide.

Pressing each other close the dead
Who own no hatred and no flag,
Their hair veneered with clotted blood,
The dead are all on the same side.

In the one clay where endlessly
Beginnings blend with the world that dies
The brothered dead lain cheek to cheek
Today atone for the same defeat.

Divided sons, fight on, fight on,
You lacerate humanity
And tear the earth apart in vain,
The dead are all on the same side.

Under the earth no more than one,
One field, one single hope, abide,
As for the universe can only be
One combat and one victory.

text: René Arcos (born Clichy 1880, died Neuilly-sur-Seine 1959)
trans. Christopher Middleton


Une Fenêtre où se pencher (A Window to Lean Out of)
I no longer believe in lives going under.
In the depth of every well is a blue mask,
Women will bring bread without end,
Lives remember other lives.

There will always be a window to lean out of,
Promises to keep,
A tree to lean against.

Somewhere is the face of our land.
Who will tell us its name?

text: Andree Chedid
(born Cairo 1920, lived in Paris from 1946 until her death in 2011)
trans: Maxine Relton


Aucassin and Nicolette
Well, I ask you, what has heaven got for me?
You won't catch me going through those pearly gates,
Even if I can take my girl Nicolette who I'm crazy about!

I'm telling you, those who go to heaven are:
The fusty old prelates of this world,
The miserable creatures who crouch every hour of the
day and night before alters and mouldering crypts,
The tattered and threadbare,
The bollock-naked and shoeless,
Them as is dying of hunger, thirst, cold, misery.
Heaven is crammed full of people like these and they are not my type!
No, give me Hell every time for there I'll meet:
Posh men of learning,
Handsome knights killed in their full rig and right in the heart of battle,
Brave soldiers and toffs:
That's the company for me.
And I'll find lovely ladies whose manners are so good
that they have two or three lovers besides a husband!
And there'll be gold and silver,
Rich furs of squirrel,
Harpists, jugglers, Kings of the world:
These are the damnned souls I would follow
So long as I can take with me my Nicolette, my little darling,
who I love so!

text: Anon. 12th century Picard
trans: Maxine Relton and Kate Westbrook

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